Brady Lawsuit Lotto Promised Millions, Delivered Ruin

Law-ScaleAndHammerGuns.com has the story of how the gun-ban Brady Campaign’s plan to use the parents of a victim of the Aurora, CO shooting as the hook to hang an anti-gun lawsuit on backfired. Badly.

The parents may have expected to win big and collect a large sum; instead, the ill-prepared lawsuit went down in flames, as had several similar lawsuits before it. The suit was booted on a Motion to Dismiss, although not before it cost the defendants hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

Now those costs are on the plaintiffs’ heads. Like a firearm, a lawsuit is something you should only pull the trigger on when you know you’re in the right.

A federal judge ordered the parents of a Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting victim to pay court costs and attorney fees as a result of a lawsuit filed last year, and the defendants in the case say the family owes around a quarter of a million dollars.

According to court documents filed April 10, in a combined sum, Lucky Gunner and Sportsman Guide paid roughly $224,600 to fight allegations that they failed to properly vet the gunman who used their products to kill 12 people and injure 70 others during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in July 2012.

BulkAmmo.com, more commonly known as Lucky Gunner, requested $151,574.70 in attorney and travel fees. And Sportsman Guide requested $73,037.87 on similar expenses.

Brian Platt, owner of BTP Arms, an online retailer that sold the gunman tear gas, has also requested $23,714.99 for attorney fees and $33,569.89 in relief.

Not to question a reporter’s numeracy — we’re assuming guns.com lifted these numbers from the mainstream media — but the numbers don’t add up to 224k. We’re getting $281,897.45. (Guns.com caught this, using a rounded version of the higher number in their headline). And that’s not a comprehensive amount.

The other defendant named in the suit, Gold Strike E Commerce LLC, an online retailer that sells body armor, has yet to file a motion.

via Aurora theater victim’s family may pay $280,000 in Lucky Gunner lawsuit.

If you read the legal documents, Gold Strike appears to have taken an ostrich’s approach to the whole suit, disappearing and failing to respond to the court. (This is a very unwise, but surprisingly common, legal strategy).

Of course, the judge is not bound to give the defendants all the fees and expenses they file for, but his order when he dismissed the suit in March indicates a complete fail on the part of plaintiff’s attorneys. Guns.com also had the judge’s order and an article then.

[T]he alleged chain of causation between Defendants [the online ammo sellers –Ed.]  and Holmes’s acts is too attenuated to impose liability. There can be no question that Holmes’s deliberate, premeditated criminal acts were the predominant cause of plaintiffs’ daughter’s death. Holmes meticulously prepared for his crime, arriving at the theater equipped with multiple firearms, ammunition, and other gear allegedly purchased from several distinct business entities operating both online and through brick and mortar locations. Neither the web nor the face-to-face sales of ammunition and other products to Holmes can plausibly constitute a substantial factor causing the deaths and injuries in this theater shooting.

We are not lawyers here, but we are conscious of an old aphorism of the profession, that says, “When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. When the law is on your side, pound on the law. When neither is on your side, pound on the table.” The Bradys’ legal strategy seems to have been to pound on the table, but that is more likely to work with a jury than a judge, and to get to the jury the would-be table-pounder has to get by the motions stage in front of the judge. This crew didn’t.

As the judge pointed out in his order, the plaintiffs were looking to get him to legislate from the bench, reversing the plain meaning of both US and Colorado black-letter law. He declined to do so:

The stated purpose of this civil action is to obtain a court order enjoining the defendants from conducting their online sales … until and unless they accept changes prescribed by this court. To grant such relief this court must conduct hearings and make policy decisions that are within the authority of the political branches of government responsive to the people under our constitutional structure of representative government. The defendants’ motions to dismiss must be granted because this court does not have the authority to grant the relief requested.

The Brady attorneys were in it for anti-gun activism, and probably, a piece of the action. But they, personally, are not out a dime; no doubt, they’re on the hunt for another plausible plaintiff, to be used until used up and left a hollow, indebted shell.

To the bereaved parents in this case: here at WeaponsMan.com, we’re sorry that an insane monster cruelly murdered your daughter, and we sympathize with your grief. We further regret that the experience has turned you towards totalitarian solutions. But we don’t regret for a minute that becoming a totalitarian has been costly to you.

As the Vietnam generation says, sorry ’bout that.

10 thoughts on “Brady Lawsuit Lotto Promised Millions, Delivered Ruin

    1. Hognose Post author

      No kidding. As the other commenter said, the daughter deserves the sympathy, poor kid. As far as the parents go, I’m reminded of a Harry Nilsson song that begins, “You’re breakin’ my heart, you’re tear’n’ it apart, so…”

  1. Dave

    I wonder if the Brady lawyers are taking the family’s calls… That’s an awkward conversation, I bet.

  2. LFMayor

    Chuckle! I wonder if Gary O’s next magazine (The fun to read catalog) will have a picture of him holding one of those audacious Publisher’s Clearinghouse sized checks across the cover.

  3. John Distai

    I once sued someone and won. However, I ended up losing and learning a lesson along the way. There is a big difference between winning and collecting. You can win a lawsuit. Good luck collecting.

    In my case, all the defendant had to do was declare bankruptcy and name me as one of the creditors, and they were off the hook for paying. And I was barred from pursuit of payment. Thankfully it was a relatively small sum, and I ended up getting what I really wanted, which was for the person to move on. They didn’t have to move on, as I had no remedy for collecting, and no remedy for them to forfeit their house. So I could have been the big lawsuit winner, but the huge loser in the end. Thankfully it didn’t end that way.

    I can imagine that there’s already been some talks by these folks and attorneys regarding how they can get out of this with minimal consequences. That bankruptcy reform that was touted several years ago? All BS. You can still declare it, you just may need to hire a more experienced attorney to navigate whatever faux roadblocks have been put in place.

    I watched as the person I sued falsified and hid assets and reported what appeared to me to be lies regarding their net worth to the court. So they got to declare bankruptcy AND keep their stuff. My remedy? I’d have to sue them over again to prove that they falsified documents. More money out of my pocket. Through this all, I learned that the only free people are those who are broke and without conscience.

    I have a theory that many of these lawsuits and other legal actions we see dealing with the government and our Constitutional rights are not intended to win, but to merely bankrupt the defending parties into acquiescence. Perhaps these companies had what I term an “asshole insurance account”, where they set aside money to deal with assholes, and this doesn’t hurt. Perhaps they didn’t. But they’re still out the money. (BTW, we should all have an “asshole insurance account”, just like we have car insurance and homeowners insurance. Dealing with assholes through the legal system is an unfortunate fact of life that we all must be prepared for).

    So the Brady’s may have lost the lawsuit, but the companies filing for relief are the real losers. Unless those companies failed to pay their legal teams, they are out tangible, real money. The Brady’s and the parents most likely won’t be out anything as there are most likely ways to avoid paying any judgements while still keeping their stuff.

    1. Hognose Post author

      John, the lawyers run the tort system. Therefore the lawyers, and only the lawyers, win.

      Because we throw the courthouse door open to anyone, in the interests of liberty and equality, a narcissistic clown can abuse the hell out of it. That’s the case with one serial litigator who is a convicted perjurer, fraud artist, and terrorist bomber, and an adjudicated pedophile. With all that in evidence, the asshat sues people for defaming his character. What’s to defame? But he’s able to tie real people and their real lawyers up endlessly with his ridiculous and pathetic pro se filings.
      Likewise, a legendary military phony filed a bogus defamation suit over butthurt for being called on decades of bogus SF/Ranger/officer claims, which he’d used to boost his career as a “terrorism expert.” Real military service: 58 days, drop-out, may have been due to mental illness or personality disorder. His defendants won legal fees — he is currently banging out bankrupt and divorcing (or feigning divorce). He has made his home and real estate holdings evaporate in the process, largely through what may be a false conveyance. The defendants appear to be without recourse.

      [this comment has been edited. “military illness” was corrected to “mental illness” -Ed.]

      1. John Distai

        Are you familiar with the practice of patent trolling? Another legal system con where the only winners are the lawyers.

  4. John Distai

    There’s a lot of people that you can speak to during the day that have no idea how the law and the “justice” system “works”. Especially fellow suburbanite yuppies in Corporate America. Unfortunately, it takes getting mired in legal goo once or twice to figure it out, and not everyone is exposed to this so the charade continues.

    That said neighbor from the previous reply had a husband who had a bit of a substance abuse problem. 3 DWI’s in 5 years, along with some suspected meth cooking that I couldn’t prove. He got away relatively clean on the first DWI, with the charges dismissed. But the second DWI was an interesting lesson to the law-abiding.

    I watched that guy go from court date to court date every 6 weeks. “Continuations” they were called. Sure he probably waived his right to a “speedy trial”, hoping that the cop would be on vacation the day his number was called, and therefore his charges may have been dismissed. But he “continued” for over a year. It may have been 2 years. I don’t remember, but it was a very long time.

    In the meantime, he gets popped for his 3rd DWI while awaiting trial for his second one.

    Now I know that the court has a capacity problem, and can’t try everyone in a timely manner. And I don’t know what sort of deal this guy had with his attorney, and whether the attorney could show up on his behalf every six weeks to get another continuance, whether he had the attorney on retainer, or had paid a flat fee. An attorney would be pretty stupid, in my opinion, to go flat rate, and have to show up for a client every 6 weeks for a year or two, but its possible. Perhaps they had to be in court that day anyhow, so it wasn’t big deal.

    After some period of time, the guy got convicted, and maybe did some community service. Then it hit me. The criminal punishment, if any, was the minor part of the whole affair. The bleeding out of money and time was the real punishment. From my perspective, once they had bled him of enough money and time off of work, he was relatively “free to go.”

    The 3rd charge received a conviction within a matter of months. Imagine that. He must have figured the con out too, and took some steps to avoid the inevitable before it crushed him further.

    The lawyers are the only prevailing parties in a legal encounter. The rest of us are just sheep to be fleeced, one way or another.

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